Vintage Lens Reviews http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr Reviews of vintage Minolta MC / MD lenses on Sony NEX Sun, 20 May 2018 16:34:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Review: Vivitar (Tokina) Series 1 90 mm f/2.5 VMC Macro http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-vivitar-tokina-series-1-90-mm-f2-5-vmc-macro/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-vivitar-tokina-series-1-90-mm-f2-5-vmc-macro/#respond Sun, 30 Jul 2017 10:55:51 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2977 The Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f/2.5 VMC Macro is a well known macro lens produced by Tokina (Serial 37xxxxxx) under the Vivitar brand. The lens allows for a magnification of 1:2 by itself and reaches 1:1 when combined with the dedicated macro converter. It was manufactured by Tokina, who, after production of the Vivitar lens ended, re-released the lens design with identical optical scheme, updated coatings and much lighter mechanics as Tokina AT-X 90 mm f/2.5 Macro. Due to it’s unusual, smooth and distraction-free bokeh, the Tokina is often called “Bokina” – and its older Vivitar brother shows the same bokeh characteristics.

Featuring a 58 mm filter thread, an all metal housing and weighing in at 660 g, this is one tank of a lens. The dedicated macro converter adds another 305 g if attached. Focus is smooth and well dampened, with an extra long throw of about 340°. The aperture ring clicks precisely and is equally well dampened. Overall, the mechanics of this lens are excellent. Not surprisingly, handling on a NEX-5T is very much top-heavy: You don’t hold the camera, you hold the lens. Focus peaking lights up like a Christmas tree starting wide open, which is quite rare. With an effective focal length of 137 mm on APS-C cameras, the Vivitar would be a perfect short tele for everyday use – if it weren’t for the weight.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Good. A slight haze on some elements and a small amount of fine dust inside. No scratches or fungus.

Mechanics: Very good. Uniform and smooth focus with medium resistance. Aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Excellent. Some marks on the mount, otherwise like new.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens shows good to very good sharpness starting wide open (f/2.5), with some haze and minor purple fringing in the corners. At f/4 the light haze and fringing are gone from the corners and the image is just perfect, showing excellent and consistent sharpness across the frame. Results at f/5.6 are indistinguishable from f/4. At f/8, there is a tiny loss in sharpness, which is likely caused by the onset of diffraction. The latter becomes more prominent by f/11 and – as always – causes pronounced softness at f/16 and f/22.

At 100% magnification, there is absolutely no lateral CA visible in any of the test images. I tried searching for it at 400% and I guess there might be a pale yellow/purple-blue tint of about one pixel width at contrasty edges. This is hands down the best performance I have ever seen from a vintage lens.

Vignetting is about a third of a stop at f/2.5 and gone if stopped down a click. The lens exhibits no measurable distortion whatsoever. The effective T-stop at f/2.5 is approximately T3 (-0.5 EV), which is not impressive. There is little to no field curvature at f/2.5, but fringing and haze outside the central image region are greatly reduced in corner-focused shots. Nothing to worry about in real life, though.

In conclusion, the Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f/2.5 VMC Macro is a high-resolution, well corrected and supremely crafted vintage macro. Apart from minimal fringing wide open, it performs spotless on the test chart. Sharpness is never a problem with this lens. The correction of lateral chromatic aberration is as good as it gets for achromatic lenses. Some people go as far as calling the lens apochromatic, but I can assure you: It is not. There’s a slight amount of pale yellow and purple/blue-ish aberrations visible in out of focus areas which doesn’t distract much, though. The Vivitar’s only two downsides don’t show on the charts: It really is quite heavy and also highly susceptible to flare and loss of contrast in backlit situations. Usage of a lens shade is absolutely mandatory with this gem. Ironically, Vivitar itself never offered a dedicated one. Coming back to the lenses’ strengths: Bokeh. I have never seen such smooth bokeh with very uniform circles of confusion, without bright outlines and with only very little mechanical vignetting (cat’s eye) at the image borders.

Overall, I can strongly recommend this lens. Due to the weight, it’s not always in my bag. But if used, it never fails to produce distinct and beautiful images.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/2.5

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/2.5

 

f/4.0

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/11

 

f/16

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/16

 

f/22

Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/2.5

Field curvature: Vivitar Series 1 90 mm f2.5 @ f/2.5

 

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Review: Minolta MD 85 mm f/2 (MD-III) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-md-85-mm-f2-md-iii/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-md-85-mm-f2-md-iii/#respond Sat, 29 Jul 2017 19:31:53 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2951 The MD 85 mm f/2 without “Rokkor” designation was Minolta’s last manual focus 85 mm. As the successor of a line of MC 85 mm f/1.7 lenses, the MD is significantly lighter and more compact. Although the optical scheme with 6 lenses in 5 groups is similar to the predecessors, the optics are not the same. The MD is also said to be one of the sharpest lenses Minolta ever produced.

The lens is quite compact and quite light at 286 g. Focus is smooth but not buttery and overall handling on a NEX-5T is excellent. Although there are some plastic parts like the aperture ring, the overall build quality is high. Focus peaking works fine at f/2 as long as light is sufficient and excellent from f/2.8 onward. The effective focal length of 130 mm on APS-C cameras renders the MD a nice and compact tele prime for every day use.

For further details on the lens, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Very good. No haze, no scratches and only a small amount of fine dust inside.

Mechanics: Very good. Uniform and smooth focus with low to medium resistance, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Acceptable to good. Some scratches and nicks in the finish, slight wear on the exterior of the aperture ring.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

At f/2, the lens shows acceptable sharpness with some haze, minor purple fringing and pretty decent contrast. The performance is consistent across the whole frame. Sharpness increases to good / close to very good when stopping down to f/2.8 and the haze is nearly gone. At f/4, haze and fringing are gone and the image is pretty much spotless with very good sharpness across the frame. The shots at f/5.6 and f/8 are a tiny bit crisper than f/4 and show close to excellent sharpness. Diffraction becomes evident at f/11 and causes more and more softness at f/16 and f/22.

A minimal red and cyan glow is visible in the corners at f/2 and f/2.8. Starting at f/4, the aberrations sharpen up and form absolutely tiny red/cyan CAs, which are barely visible in the test images. This is an outstanding performance for an achromatic lens.

Vignetting is about half a stop at f/2 and gone by f/2.8. The lens exhibits no measurable distortion whatsoever. The effective T-stop at f/2 is approximately T2.4 (-0.5 EV), which is not impressive. Field curvature is not detectable.

In conclusion, the MD-III 85 mm f/2 is an excellent performer in nearly all areas. Extremely little lateral CA, no distortion, good contrast and for all practical purposes, there probably won’t be any visible difference in sharpness between f/4 and f/11. Is it the highest resolving lens Minolta ever produced? Well, my copy certainly isn’t – the fact that the lens doesn’t show signs of diffraction until f/11 makes this quite clear. And I doubt another copy would be significantly better. But thanks to good overall and great micro-contrast, the MD-III 85 mm still renders a very, very sharp image. Judging the perceived sharpness, it is up there with the best Minoltas of the manual focus era and certainly surpasses the MD Varisoft Rokkor 85 mm f/2.8. Its single true weakness, however, cannot be seen in the test charts: The lens shows quite prominent purple fringing in high-contrast areas and backlit situations at f/2, f/2.8 and even stopped down to f/4.

Overall, this is a short tele I can recommend. But when using the lens, you should have an eye out for fringing and it probably won’t hurt to stop down to f/4 if sharpness is absolutely critical.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/2.0

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/2.0

 

f/2.8

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/11

 

f/16

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/16

 

f/22

MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/2.0

Field curvature: MD-III 85 mm f/2.0 @ f/2.0

 

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Review: Minolta MD 50 mm f/1.4 (MD-III) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-md-50-mm-f1-4-md-iii/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-md-50-mm-f1-4-md-iii/#comments Sun, 16 Apr 2017 20:16:45 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2904 The MD 50 mm f/1.4 with 49 mm filter thread from the early 80s is the last f/1.4 standard lens introduced in the Minolta manual focus line-up. The lens is less common than it’s slightly slower MD 50 mm f/1.7 and MD 50 mm f/2 counterparts which were packaged as kit lenses with popular cameras such as the X-700. The MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 is also less “internet famous” than – for example – the often praised MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4. But after testing and using it for a while I have to say that I do not really know why…

The lens is compact and pleasantly light at 230 g. Focus is smooth but not buttery and overall handling on a NEX-5T is excellent. Although it is constructed of more plastic parts than preceding Minolta designs, tolerances are tight and the build quality is high. Focus peaking works fine even at f/1.4 as long as light is sufficient, which is not the case for many other fast standard primes. The effective focal length of 76 mm on APS-C cameras renders the MD f/1.4 a nice short tele prime for every day use and the occasional portrait.

For further details on the lens, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Good. No scratches, minimal dust and a very slight haze on some elements, probably from condensed air moisture.

Mechanics: Excellent. Uniform and smooth focus with low to medium resistance, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Excellent. Some marks on the mount, otherwise like new.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

Notice: There was some asymmetry in the test shots with the left side being slightly softer and showing a bit more haze than the right side of the images. It is possible that this lens might show slightly better corner performance in practice than the test shots suggest.

 

The lens shows acceptable sharpness wide with some haze, minor purple fringing and pretty decent contrast. The performance is consistent across the whole frame. Sharpness slightly increases when stopping down to f/2 and the prominence of haze and fringing is reduced by about 50%. At f/2.8, haze and fringing are gone while overall sharpness improves to good and the center comes close to very good levels. At f/4, the lens certainly shows very good sharpness which every so slightly improves at f/5.6, where a score of “excellent” is appropriate. At f/8, the overall sharpness is reduced a tiny bit (-> very good), probably due to diffraction. Diffraction becomes more evident at f/11 and increases softness at f/16.

Some red and cyan glow is visible at f/1.4 and f/2 in the corners. Starting at f/2.8, the aberrations sharpen up and form very small red/cyan CAs that shrink further when stopping down. Overall, the MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 performs very good for a fast achromatic prime.

Vignetting is about half a stop at f/1.4 and gone by f/2. The lens also exhibits some pincushion distortion (0.4%). The effective T-stop at f/1.4 is approximately T1.6 (-0.4 EV), which is pretty okay for a fast prime. Field curvature is minimal, too.

Until buying this lens, I was under the impression that Minolta never manufactured any standard lens as sharp as the MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4. It seemed like in all later lenses like the MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 or even the 50 mm f/1.2, Minolta somehow sacrificed sharpness for either compactness, less CA or some other characteristic. Now I know that I was wrong. The MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 is up to the task. A side-by-side comparison shows that while the MC Rokkor-PG actually still has a minimal edge in resolution at f/2 and possibly f/2.8, the overall better (micro-)contrast of the MD-III results in images of higher perceived sharpness across all apertures. In all other characteristics (size, CAs, distortion, vignetting), the MD is equal to or better than the MC. The only thing the latter has going for itself are the mechanics: Focusing doesn’t get much smoother than on Minolta MC lenses.

In conclusion, the MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 is my new go-to optic for everyday use, replacing the MD-III 50 mm f/2. While the latter actually is slightly sharper in the center at f/2 and shows even less (read: zero) lateral chromatic aberration, it has softer corners, more vignetting and – surprise – it doesn’t have a maximum aperture of f/1.4. Considering that the MD-III f/1.4 is just 4 mm longer and slightly heavier, this lens offers the most bang for space in your bag.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/1.4

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

 

f/2.0

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/2.0

 

f/2.8

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MD 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/11

 

f/16

MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/16

 

Field curvature at f/1.4

Field curvature: MD-III 50 mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

 

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Review: MD W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8 (MD-II) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-md-w-rokkor-24-mm-f2-8-md-ii/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-md-w-rokkor-24-mm-f2-8-md-ii/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:39:06 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2855 The MD W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8 is a high resolution, fast wide angle lens from the late 70’s. It features the same design as the earlier MC-X version: 9 lenses in 7 groups. Due to its superior optical performance, this lens was licensed by Leitz and sold under the Leica brand in a different housing. The MD-II version tested here was later followed by an MD-III or “plain MD” version with slightly simplified design (8/8) which is supposed to offer better corner sharpness.

The build quality of the lens is excellent and it feels solid and compact. Focus is smooth and handling on a NEX-5T is very pleasant. The focus throw is rather short at roughly 85°, but precise focusing is not a problem because depth of field is large. At approximately 280 g, the lens has just the right weight – not too heavy, not too light. The effective field of view of 37 mm on APS-C cameras gives you a very versatile tool for reportage style photography.

For further details on the lens, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Excellent. No scratches, no fungus and only the slightest amount of dust in the lens.

Mechanics: Excellent. Uniform and very smooth focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount and body.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

Notice: Astigmatism (horizontal lines are rendered sharper than vertical ones) is visible in the test shots. It mainly affects the left half of the image. The top left corner, which is cropped and shown later on, is affected the most. Chromatic aberration is similarly strongest in the top left corner. This points to the fact that this copy of the lens may not be perfectly centered or aligned. Looking at the average of all four corners, I would expect that a “perfect copy” of the 24 mm performs a bit – but not worlds – better than shown below.

The lens starts out with acceptable to good center sharpness wide open, nearly no visible haze and rather soft corners. Contrast isn’t bad. The center improves at f/4, reaching very good sharpness. The corners equally improve, but stay a bit on the soft side. Their appearance is virtually constant from f/4 to f/11. Stopping down to f/5.6, the central region now shows an absolutely excellent level of sharpness. Diffraction becomes evident as early as f/8, which underlines how sharp the lens is before. Sharpness at f/11 is still good and f/16 is – as always – a bit soft. f/22 is blurred away by diffraction. The corner shots at f/2.8 show that some field curvature is present, but on a surprisingly low level.

A small red and cyan outline is visible at f/2.8, which transforms into sharp, medium-sized CAs by f/4. They grow very slightly up to f/16. Overall not impressive, but certainly a good performance for a vintage wide angle.

Vignetting is about half a stop at f/2.8 and disappears at f/4. The lens exhibits a significant amount of barrel distortion (-1.1%). The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is approximately T3.3 (-0.5 EV), which is okay.

In conclusion, the MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 is a strong contender in your lens basket when looking for a wide angle. The lens performs surprisingly well in the center even wide open and peak sharpness at f/5.6 clearly outperforms the 16 MPix sensor on my NEX-5T, which is equivalent to 36 MPix in full frame. The corner performance is not quite up to modern standards, but will do fine for most applications. And the CAs are prominent but very easy to correct in post processing. Ironically, a Vivitar (Kiron) 24 mm f/2.0 holds up well to the Minolta when only comparing image corners – it’s less contrasty and shows even heavier CA, but the corners are visibly sharper already wide open. In the central region, however, the Vivitar doesn’t stand a chance. Overall, the Minolta MD-II may not be the best vintage 24 mm overall, but it’s a very solid option with a lot of strong points and a few easy to handle weaknesses. Considering that the first version of this design was launched in 1973, it’s quite a remarkable lens.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/2.8

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/11

 

f/16

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/16

 

f/22

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/2.8

Field curvature: MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

 

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Review: Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2 (MC-X) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-mc-rokkor-pg-58-mm-f1-2-mc-x/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-mc-rokkor-pg-58-mm-f1-2-mc-x/#respond Sun, 06 Nov 2016 13:15:28 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2790 The MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2 was Minolta’s top-of-the line normal lens from the late 60’s until the introduction of the MD 50 mm f/1.2 in 1978. It features 7 lenses in 5 groups and can be regarded as the “larger brother” of the MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 (6/5). The later 50 mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor-PG features the same optical scheme (7/5). Today, the 58 mm f/1.2 is probably the most highly regarded Minolta SR lens ever built and continuously fetches very high prices on the used market. It is notorious for its excellent bokeh and superior sharpness.

Most MC lenses made by Minolta feature excellent build quality, smooth focusing and that certain, satisfying feel when focusing – and the 58 mm f/1.2 is no exception. At approximately 480 g, it is quite heavy for a normal lens. Handling on a NEX-5T is good, but a bit front-heavy. Even compared to other excellent Minolta lenses, focusing is extremely precise and on my copy, there is just no amount of play or wobble in the mechanics whatsoever – even after 40 years of use. The effective field of view of 89 mm on APS-C cameras combined with the f/1.2 aperture renders this lens the perfect short portrait tele.

For further details on the lens, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Excellent. No scratches, no fungus and only the tiniest amount of dust in the lens.

Mechanics: Excellent. Uniform and buttery smooth focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount, otherwise like new.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is rather soft, hazy and shows low to medium contrast wide open, but a very even performance across the frame. The haze nearly clears by f/2, which also boosts contrast. Sharpness improves, too, but is still only acceptable. It reaches good levels at f/2.8, but now the corners are slightly behind. Stopping down further, sharpness becomes very good at f/4 and excellent at f/5.6. From f/4 onwards, the performance is consistent across the frame again. Diffraction becomes evident at f/8, which underlines how sharp the lens is before. Sharpness at f/11 is still good and f/16 is – as always – a bit soft. The corner shots at f/1.2 show that field curvature is present, but barely noticeable on this lens

A tiny red and cyan outline is visible from f/2.8 and transforms into sharp but very, very small CAs by f/4. An excellent performance for such a fast, achromatic lens.

Vignetting is surprisingly low with only 2/3 of a stop at f/1.2 and is gone by f/2. The lens exhibits a light to medium amount of barrel distortion (-0.6%). The effective T-stop at f/1.2 is approximately T1.6 (-0.8 EV), which is a little disappointing. This, however, is not primarily the fault of the lens, as DxOMark has proven. It seems to be related to the problem that digital sensors register less light the further the incident angle of the light diverges from 90°. And the higher the f-stop, the higher the fraction of light that reaches the sensor at smaller angles. If you read the DxOMark investigation, keep in mind that the pixel pitch of the NEX-5T and 5N is 4.76 µm, close to the α7R’s 4.86 µm.

In conclusion, the MC 58 mm f/1.2 is a slightly overweight bokeh monster with pleasing optical characteristics. It’s not razor sharp until f/4, but that might even be an advantage in certain use cases. Overall, sharpness is behind the excruciatingly crisp MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4 up to f/4 and about on par with the MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.2. The latter seems to have slightly higher contrast wide open. Compared to both of these lenses, the 58 mm f/1.2 shows significantly less lateral chromatic aberration (CA) and is mechanically superior – not by much, maybe, but you can feel it. One of the main downsides of the 50 mm f/1.2 – heavy longitudinal CA, sometimes termed bokeh fringing or color bokeh – is also almost unbeknown to the 58 mm. This is especially nice, since those CAs can be hard to correct in post processing, depending on the surrounding colors. Overall, this is one monster of a lens which certainly deserves its reputation.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/1.2

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/1.2

 

f/2.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/2.0

 

f/2.8

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/16

 

Field curvature at f/1.2

Field curvature: MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/

 

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3D printing a focus ring grip for my Minolta MC 35 mm f/1.8 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/3d-printing-a-focusing-ring-grip-for-my-minolta-mc-35-mm-f1-8/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/3d-printing-a-focusing-ring-grip-for-my-minolta-mc-35-mm-f1-8/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:21:51 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2728 Grip-less Minolta MC 35 mm f/1.8 with 3D printed grip replacementMy trusty but heavily beaten copy of the classic Minolta MC 35 mm f/1.8 came to me with a number of – mostly cosmetic – issues. Besides a bent filter thread and a number of scratches, it was also missing the rubber focus ring grip. Like most late Minolta MC and all MD lenses, this copy used to have the typical embossed grip with tightly packed little pyramids on it, too. As focusing is a bit slippery without the rubber grip, I was looking for a replacement for quite some time. I found some ideas in threads on mflenses.com and other forums, including using leather, embossed rubber doormats, cord wraps or just duct tape. Sadly, none of the gathered ideas would have restored the original look to the lens.

 

3D printing

I wasn’t really happy with any material I had found in hardware and art supply stores and I wanted to “do it right”. So I looked into 3D printing. There are a number of companies, which offer 3D printing “as a service” – you supply the model and select a material and the company will print it out for you. The – to my knowledge – biggest players around are currently shapeways and trinckle. To construct a model, I first measured the base thickness and pyramid length and height of the rubber grips on my other Minolta lenses. Then, I took the dimensions of the groove on the lens (d = 63.00 mm, h = 20.85 mm) and constructed a model in Solid Works. I added +0.4 mm to the inner diameter of the grip to accommodate for a thin layer of adhesive.

3D printed grip as it arrived from trinckle - detail of the inside3D printed grip as it arrived from trinckleWith the finished model, I looked for a fitting material at different 3D printing services. As they do not all offer the same choice of printable polymers, this turned out to be quite interesting. The best match for actual rubber seemed to be the sintered rubber offered by trinckle. Although not actually rubber, the material is supposed to be very flexible, soft and offer a slightly rough surface – perfect for a grip. Unfortunately, sintered rubber can only be printed with a comparatively low resolution of 0.75 mm, which is close to the thinnest features of the grip model (0.8 mm). After comparing some other options, I finally settled for sintered plastic, also offered by trinckle. The material is actually Polyamide, is flexible to some degree and offers a sufficient printing resolution (0.4 mm). Further, it can be printed in black, which was a prerequisite to get as close to the original look as possible.

 

>>> Download the grip model (Solid Works & exported STL file) <<<

[Remark: I own the copyright on these CAD files. You are free to download, use, modify and print them at no charge.
You may also redistribute them directly or in modified form, as long as you credit me and link to this post.
You may NOT use the files commercially in any way.]

 

Assembly

Sanding the grip using woodworking sandpaper (120 grit)Detail of the grip after sanding, showing the white base materialThe printed result arrived after about 10 days. The material is slightly shiny, looks a bit rough, has a hard surface but can be flexed. With an inner diameter of about 63.5 mm (hard to measure precisely) and a height of 21.3 mm, the dimensions were quite close to those of the submitted model. The slight surplus in height had to be reduced, though, to make the grip fit on the lens. I used 120 grit sandpaper for woodworking, placed it on a flat surface and sanded 4 to 5 strokes with slight pressure, before turning the grip about 30°. After repeating this roughly 50 times per side, the height reached a snug fit of slightly more than 20.8 mm. As it turned out, the Polyamide used for manufacturing is actually white and was likely soaked in black dye after the sintering process. Consequently, the grip is white below the surface. Not a problem in this case since the sanded sides are covered by the lens body, but still interesting to see.

Result: MC 35 mm f/1.8 with 3D printed gripDetail of the cut in the gripAfter de-dusting the grip and cleaning the lens with Isopropyl alcohol to remove dirt and fat, I glued three small patches of thin double sided tape into the groove on the lens (sorry, no photo!). My initial plan was to stretch the grip onto the lens from above by heating it up to 85 °C in a water bath causing it to expand slightly and become easier to stretch. As it turned out, this was not enough to stretch it to the required 65 mm diameter of the lens. As I didn’t want to heat the grip up further or use excessive force, I settled on cutting it open on one side and just fitting the cut tightly on the double sided tape. As you can see in the close-up shot, this leaves a very small, hardly visible “scar” in the mounted grip, which might or might not attract a bit of dirt over time. It looks much more prominent in the photo than it does in real life, though – I always have trouble locating it, even though I know what to look for.

 

Result

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the result you can see above. From more than an arms length away, the grip looks like the original. It’s also comfortable to hold, has plenty of grip for focusing and fits firmly – no wobbling in any direction. The only thing missing is the softer, rubbery feel of the original. Overall, it was probably the most complicated solution for restoring the lens, but it gave a nice result and for me, fiddling with the construction and manufacturing was a lot of fun.

 

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Minolta MD 2x Tele Converter 300-S & 300-L: Compatibility http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/minolta-md-2x-tele-converter-compatibility/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/minolta-md-2x-tele-converter-compatibility/#respond Sun, 17 Jul 2016 12:53:51 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2682 Minolta MD 2x Tele Converter 300-SIf you already own some Minolta normal or short tele lenses, the thought to add a tele converter to your line-up might have crossed your mind. If so, you may be interested in my review of the MD 300-S with an MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4. Further, you should keep in mind that there are two genuine Minolta converters: The MD 2x 300-S for focal lengths up to 300 mm and the MD 2x 300-L, which is identical to the “2x Converter for (MD) APO Tele Rokkor” and designed for focal lengths of 300 mm and above.

The MD 2x tele converters cannnot be arbitrarily combined with any Minolta lens. Some combinations can lead to mechanical damage and some just result in very poor image quality. The following compatibility table was originally posted to the Minolta Forum (German) by Matthias Paul. He kindly gave me permission to translate and replicate it here.

 

A short explanation of the codes used in the table below:
[1] The combination works
[2] Image quality not acceptable
[3] Image quality acceptable if stopped down one to two stops
[5] (Strong) vignetting is possible
[4] DO NOT MOUNT – mechanical damage will occur if you try to assemble this combination
[6] Remark, that the MC and MD version of the lens are listed seperately
[7] The combination was originally not listed in the users manual, but has been added in a later version

 

Minolta MD 2x converter 300-S and 300-L compatibility table

Lens Focal length Max. Aperture Compatibility 300-S Compatibility 300-L
MD/MC   7.5 4.0 [1] [4]
MD/MC   16 2.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC   17 4.0 [1] [4]
MD       20 2.8 [1] [4]
MC       21 2.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC   24 2.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC   28 2.0 [1] [4]
MC       28 2.5 [1] [4]
MD/MC   28 2.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC   28 3.5 [1] [4]
MD/MC   35 1.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC   35 2.8 [1] [4]
MD       45 2.0 [1] [4]
MD       50 1.2 [1] [4]
MD/MC   50 1.4 [1] [4]
MD/MC   50 1.7 [1] [4]
MC       50 2.0 [1] [4]
MC       55 1.7 [1] [4]
MC       55 1.9 [1] [4]
MC       58 1.2 [1] [4]
MC       58 1.4 [1] [4]
MD/MC   85 1.7 [1] [3]
MD       85 2.0 [1] [3]
MD/MC   100 2.5 [1] [3]
MD       135 2.0 [1+7] [2+7]
MD/MC   135 2.8 [1] [3]
MD/MC   135 3.5 [1] [3]
MD       200 2.8 [1] [3]
MC       200 3.5 [1] [3]
MD/MC   200 4.0 [1] [1]
MC       200 4.5 [1] [1]
MD       300 4.5 [1+6] [1+6]
MC       300 4.5 [1+6] [1+6]
MD/MC   300 5.6 [1] [1]
MD/MC   400 5.6 [2] [1]
MD       600 6.3 [2] [1]
Telyt-S 800 6.3 [2+7] [1+5+7]
RF       250 5.6 [1] [3]
RF       500 8.0 [1] [1]
RF       800 8.0 [3+5] [1]
RF       1600 11 [2] [1+5]
MD       24-35 3.5 [1+7] [4+7]
MD       24-50 4.0 [1] [4]
MD       28-85 3.5-4.5 [1+7] [4+7]
MD       35-70 3.5 [1] [4]
MD       35-105 3.5-4.5 [1+7] [3+7]
MD       35-135 3.5-4.5 [1+7] [2+7]
MC       40-80 2.8 [1] [4]
MD       50-135 3.5 [1] [3]
MD       70-210 4.0 [1+7] [3+7]
MD       75-150 4.0 [1+7] [3+7]
MD       75-200 4.5 [1] [3]
MC       80-200 4.5 [1] [4]
MD/MC   100-200 5.6 [1] [3]
MD       100-300 5.6 [1+7] [3+7]
MD/MC   100-500 8.0 [2] [1]
MD/MC 24 VFC 2.8 [1] [4]
MD/MC 35 ShiftCA 2.8 [2] [4]
MC 85 Varisoft 2.8 [1] [3]
MD/MC 50 Macro 3.5 [1] [4]
MD/MC 100 Macro 3.5 [1] [3]
MD 100 Macro 4.0 [1] [3]

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Zhongyi Lens Turbo II: Compatibility and mounting problems http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/zhongyi-lens-turbo-ii-compatibility-and-mounting-problems/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/articles/zhongyi-lens-turbo-ii-compatibility-and-mounting-problems/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2016 09:07:17 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2661 Zhongyi Lens Turbo II for Minolta MC/MDAfter using the Zhongyi Lens Turbo II for a while, there are some quirks and restrictions popping up. The optics of the Lens Turbo (LT) are very good and the mechanics look solid, too. But not all lenses are compatible and mounting the LT on the camera can be a bit fiddly – it’s always tricky to get it to lock. In contrast to a native lenses, the distinct “click”-noise when mounting is missing as you don’t turn the whole adapter, but only the locking flange. In any case, the adapter would still rotate easily when mounted. As it turns out, there is a reason for that…

 

Compatibility

There’s some lenses, which can not be properly mounted on the Lens Turbo because the aperture pin is blocked and others, where the rear lens element can collide with the LT optics. Hillyard Photography is maintaining a list of over 80 lenses with various mounts, which have been tested for compatibility with the LT II. There is also an active Flickr dicussion related to this list, where new findings are usually published first.

In case of the LT II for Minolta MC/MD, lenses where the back element protrudes more than 3 mm from the back of the mount when focused to infinity can collide with the Lens Turbo optics and shouldn’t be used. If you can mount the lens, but the aperture is stuck open or you can not fully mount it but the glass does not collide,  you can most likely fix the problem by filing down the aperture pin of your lens by approx. 1 mm. Although I don’t like the idea of tampering with my lenses in this way, it’s a viable solution and does not impede the functionality of the lens. If you do this, just be careful with the metal shavings and make sure the lens is completely clean of them before mounting it on your camera. The shavings may otherwise lead to shorts or mechanical damage. This is especially important on cameras offering in-body image stabilization (IBIS) like the A7II, which use very fine electromagnetic solenoids to position the sensor that will magically attract all metal flying around in the mount.

If you are having problems focusing to infinity even with your compatible lenses, there might be an issue with the optical assembly in your Lens Turbo. Luckily, one adventurous user took apart his LT and documented how to adjust infinity focus. In short: You can screw the whole optic assembly in or out after removing the three screws on the back and loosening some glued parts. Have a look at the thread linked above for detailed instructions.

 

Mounting / Locking problem

Unmodified Lens Turbo II, orange reactagle marks chamfered mounting pin boreAs mentioned, the Lens Turbo has a very nice mechanical construction, but mounting it on the camera does not give you the same feedback when locking as mounting a native lens does. And it always tended to rotate while mounting or dismounting lenses. I originally thought the chamfering of the bore for the locking pin (see image on the left) was responsible and that the pin would just be pushed in inadvertently. As it turns out, that was not the reason.

Looking at the mounted LT on the A6000 of a friend showed, that the tab on the LT protecting the lens release button did not only protect it from accidental actuation, but also slightly pressed it down all the time. This resulted in the locking pin being slightly retracted when the LT was mounted on camera, which, in turn, made it very easy to just turn the Turbo (and scratch the plasic inside the mount) although the lock was seemingly “engaged”.

Modified Lens Turbo II, detail of filed-down partModified Lens Turbo II, orange rectangle marks filed-down partIt can be argued, whether it was a design choice of the manufacturer not to rely on the locking system. In my opinion, this is a bit of a half-baked solution. A friend of mine agreed and decided to modify his LT accordingly. He used a file to shave off about 0.5 mm from the backside of the tab protecting the lens release button (see images on the right). The result looks nicely machined and had the desired effect: The Lens Turbo now mounts with the locking pin fully engaging and doesn’t twist easily anymore while mounting lenses. If you don’t fit the Turbo perfectly while mounting it to the camera and have to twist slightly to align it, the satisfactory “click” noise will be more pronounced, too.

All in all, this turned out to be an easy fix and really improves the confidence in the locking mechanism while working with the LT.

 

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Review: Minolta MC Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.5 (MC-X) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-mc-tele-rokkor-200-mm-f4-5-mc-x/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/review-minolta-mc-tele-rokkor-200-mm-f4-5-mc-x/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2016 11:51:45 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2600 The MC 200 mm f/4.5 is a skinny medium tele from the early seventies. The lens is the smaller cousin of the MD 200 mm f/4 and was mainly offered as a lower-priced alternative.

The 200 mm f/4.5 is solidly build, not too light at approx. 540 g and handling on a NEX-5T is okay. Typical for Minolta MC lenses, the focus is very smooth and the build quality is superb. Ironically, the lens is slightly heavier than the MD 200 mm f/4 and only a mere 2 mm shorter. Due to its design, the MC looks a bit skinnier even though the actual difference is negligible. The effective focal length of 305 mm on APS-C cameras renders this lens a compact tele with solid reach.

For further details on the lens, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Excellent. No scratches, no fungus and only the tiniest amount of dust in the lens.

Mechanics: Excellent. Uniform and very smooth focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount, the filter thread and the aperture ring.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is surprisingly soft and shows a light haze wide open. Stopping down to f/5.6 clears up most of the haze and thereby increases contrast, but sharpness is still just acceptable. At f/8, the sharpness finally increases to “good” and the lens delivers an even performance throughout the frame. The same is true for f/11. Diffraction becomes evident at f/16, which is pretty late and supports the general feel that the lens is not stunningly sharp before. f/22 is soft as always. As is to be expected from a slow-ish tele, field curvature is not noticeable.

A light green and magenta is visible at f/4.5 and f/5.6, which transform into sharp but small CAs by f/8. A typical performance for a medium tele.

Vignetting is about 3/4 of a stop at f/4.5, very low at f/5.6 and disappears when stopping down further. The lens also exhibits a practically irrelevant pincushion distortion of 0.2%. The effective T-stop at f/4.5 is approximately T5.6 (-0.6 EV), which is just okay.

In conclusion, the MC 200 mm f/4.5 is a skinny tele without any flashy features. It’s not fast, it’s not light, it’s not small. Compared to the often praised MD 200 mm f/4, the f/4.5 does not fare too well, either. The f/4 is slightly lighter, by far sharper at every aperture and not even considerably bigger. There’s little difference in the CA performance and the f/4 is – of course – half a stop faster. It might sound a bit harsh, but I could not think of one single reason to use the f/4.5 instead of the f/4. Even the lower price doesn’t really count, as the MD 200 mm f/4 is a very common lens and can be bought for little money in many package deals including a body and one or two more lenses. Let me state this explicitely, just to be sure: Get the f/4!

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/4.5

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/4.5

 

f/5.6

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/16

 

f/22

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/4.5

Field curvature: MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/4.5

 

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Review: Minolta MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 (MD-III) http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/minolta-md-24-35-mm-f3-5-md-iii/ http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/reviews/minolta-md-24-35-mm-f3-5-md-iii/#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2015 20:24:13 +0000 http://vintagelensreviews.com/vlr/?p=2432 The Minolta MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 is smaller and less expensive alternative to the often praised MD Zoom 24-50 mm f/4. It’s missing some focal length on the long end, but is half a stop faster in return. Combined with a common 50 mm kit lens of the time, it was a nice alternative to the longer brother.

The MD 24-35 mm is a compact and relatively light weight lens. The focus is smooth and offers a nice, low resistance. Focus throw is rather short with approximately 90°, but that’s totally fine for a wide angle lens. The zoom ring on my copy is very stubborn, though – it’s hard to turn, without a camera grip to build up the necessary torque. And from time to time, I found myself turning both, the focus and the zoom ring when wanting to zoom, as they are very close together on the short body. Besides this little problem, handling on a NEX-5T is good. The 36 – 53 mm equivalent focal length on APS-C is very useful in everyday use, as it covers the reportage and normal range.

For further details on the lens like weight and dimensions, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Good. No scratches, but discolored patches in the coating of the front element that are only visible when looked at with a flashlight at certain angles. Some isolated dust particles inside.

Mechanics: Fair. Uniform and smooth focus with nice resistance. Very stiff and stubborn zoom. Aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal scratches in the finishing on the edges, some grime here and there.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

Notice: Some astigmatism (horizontal lines are rendered sharper than vertical ones) is visible in the test shots at all focal lengths. This could either be inherent to the lens design, or point to a slight decentering of the lens.

 

24 mm (-> jump to test charts)

Central sharpness at 24 mm is very good already wide open, but the corners are soft and show a light haze. The latter clears when stopping down to f/5.6, resulting in acceptable corners and excellent sharpness in the center. At f/8, there’s the slightest amount of diffraction visible in the center, which reduces its sharpness score to very good. The corners have finally reached a good rating, too. Going to f/11 makes diffraction more evident, f/16 slightly softens the image and as always, f/22 blurs away all detail. Field curvature is significant at this focal length.

A dark red and cyan glow is visible at f/3.5 and 5.6. The glows transforms into sharp but small CAs at f/8, which grow a tiny bit when stopping down. A solid performance for a wide angle zoom.

At 24 mm, vignetting is about 2/3 of a stop at f/3.5 and gone by f/5.6. The lens shows a strong barrel distortion of -1.8% and the effective T-stop at f/3.5 is T3.2 (+0.2 EV), which is probably caused by a slightly mis-calibrated aperture. As this is a constant aperture zoom, the aperture is partly closed at 24 mm f/3.5 and opens up when zooming in to 35 mm. If it is not closed far enough at 24 mm, the actual f-stop is smaller than it should be, resulting in an equally smaller T-stop (higher light transmission).

 

35 mm (-> jump to test charts)

Sharpness at 35 mm f/3.5 is good with minimal haze overall and only slightly softer corners. The haze is gone by f/5.6 and overall sharpness increases to very good in the center and good towards the corners. Stopping down to f/8 does not change anything in the center, but actually slightly deteriorates corner performance. The corners are sharper again at f/11, where diffraction becomes visible in the center. I’ve looked into this and it’s not a mix-up or misfocused image – my copy really shows weaker corners at f/8, but I have no idea why. At f/16, diffraction hits harder and it considerably softens the image at f/22. Field curvature is non-existent at this focal length.

The lens shows very small red and cyan CAs at 35 mm, which suddenly grow at f/8 but stay small overall. This is, again, a very solid performance for a wide angle zoom.

At 35 mm, vignetting is about 2/3 of a stop at f/3.5 and gone by f/5.6. Further, the lens shows a medium barrel distortion of -0.7% and the effective T-stop at f/3.5 is T3.7 (-0.2 EV), which is pretty good.

In conclusion, the MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 is a solidly performing wide angle lens. It’s central sharpness is extremely good when compared to any Minolta zoom and even most of the primes. It’s main weakness is the corner performance at the wide end, where you need to stop down to f/8 to get a satisfactory performance. And remember: That’s on an APS-C camera. This is something to keep in mind when using the lens on full frame, as the corners certainly won’t improve. I would very much like to compare this lens to the MD 24-50 mm f/4, but couldn’t get my hands on one, yet.

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

24 mm

 

f/3.5

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/3.5

 

f/5.6

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/8.0

 

f/11

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/11

 

f/16

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/16

 

f/22MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/22

 

Field curvature at f/3.5

Field curvature: MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 24 mm f/3.5

 


35 mm

 

f/3.5

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/3.5

 

f/5.6

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/8.0

 

f/11

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/11

 

f/16

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/16

 

f/22

MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/22

 

Field curvature at f/3.5

Field curvature: MD 24-35 mm f/3.5 @ 35 mm f/3.5

 

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